Aldi’s best budget bake – Tiramisu cupcakes

Having been invited to take part in a food blogger challenge to celebrate Aldi Specialbuys Home Baking range which are on sale from Sunday 15th March 2015, we each received a hamper containing some of the range of kitchenware that would be on sale in store, along with a voucher with which to buy our ingredients.

Spurred on by the contents of my hamper, I chose to make some Italian Tiramisu inspired cupcakes and duly nipped out to Aldi to buy my ingredients: Eggs, self raising flour, caster sugar, butter, ground almonds, icing sugar, soft cheese, Amaretto, chocolate sprinkles and cupcake cakes. From my store cupboard I added almond extract and a splash of milk along with some coffee.  Here is how I made them:

For the Cakes (Makes 12):
4 Large free range eggs
140g Self raising flour
200g Caster sugar
200g Butter, softened to room temperature
80g Ground almonds
5ml almond extract
30ml milk
For the icing:
50g Butter, softened to room temperature
50g Soft cheese
250g Icing sugar
20ml Espresso (or very strong) coffee
15ml Amaretto
1 tub Chocolate sprinkles

1. Preheat the oven to 190℃.
2. Line a 12 hole cupcake tin with cupcake cases.

3. Place a large bowl onto your scales and add your eggs, reset the display to zero, then weigh in the flour, caster sugar, butter, ground almonds, almond extract and milk.

4. Using an electric mixer, thoroughly mix your ingredients together until light and fluffy.
5. Divide the mixture between your cupcake cases, making sure not to overfill the cases more than ¾ full.
6. Bake on the centre shelf of your oven for 15-18 minutes until lightly brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cupcake comes out clean.
7. Remove the cupcakes to a cooling rack and leave until cold.

To make the icing:
8. Place a large bowl on to your scales and weigh in the butter and soft cheese.
9. Remove the bowl from the scales, and using your electric mixer, beat these two ingredients together until fully combined.
10. Place the bowl back on your kitchen scales (reset the display to zero) and weigh in the icing sugar.
11. Measure in the espresso coffee and the Amaretto.

12. Starting slowly to prevent a huge dust storm of icing sugar, combine the icing ingredients together.
13. When the icing sugar is fully combined into the butter, soft cheese, coffee and Amaretto mixture, increase the speed then beat for 5 minutes until pale in colour, and light and airy in texture.

14. Spoon this into a disposable icing bag fitted with a star shaped nozzle (I used a Wilton 1M nozzle).
15. Pipe the icing onto the top in spiral pattern.
16. Sprinkle generously with the chocolate sprinkles.

17. Put the kettle on. Make yourself a coffee. Grab yourself a cupcake and enjoy your creations!

From my hamper I chose to use:
12 hole cupcake tin £1.99 This is a lovely and deep, teflon coated, non stick tin. What makes it even better is that you can put it in the dishwasher after you’ve used it! Always a bonus in my eyes being someone who hates washing up and tries to avoid it/delegate the task at all costs!

Slimline Electronic Kitchen Scales £6.99 These have an easy clean, stainless steel finish, are lightweight, slim and have an LED display.  They’re powered by an easily available CR2032 battery (which is included). Not only do they weigh in both imperial and metric weights, but they have the added feature of being able to weigh fluid ounces or millilitres of both milk or water at the touch of a button; truly functional and cook friendly.  With the added ‘tare’ function, you simply weigh your ingredient out, press the button to return the scales to zero and weigh out each additional ingredient in the same way.  Again, this really does appeal to me as I can weigh all my ingredients out in one go and into one bowl; saving washing up!

Double Oven Gloves £2.99 Part of a co-ordinated range of matching products, these are 100% cotton with a 100% polyester filling.  They’re a generous 18x92cm in size and more than big enough for the largest of hands whilst not being too large for little hands like mine. The hanging hook allows you to keep them handy near you oven and they’re washable too.

Party Butler cake container £4.99 The ideal solution to storing and transporting your cakes, snacks or pizzas.  It’s make from temperature resistant plastic which means you can easily clean this in the dishwasher (bonus!) It’s the perfect size to store 24 decorated cupcakes, whilst the two integrated, fold down handles, mean that you can easily carry your bakes to share with friends and family.

I also received but haven’t yet used:
Train silicone baking case £3.49
Measuring Jug Digital Kitchen Scale £6.99

The hamper and contents were provided to me free of charge from Aldi UK.  I was also provided with a gift voucher with which to purchase my ingredients to create my #BestBudgetBake recipe.


PG Tips Fruit Infusions – They’re refreshingly good!

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When this hamper arrived on my doorstep full of PG Tips herbal infusions and green teas, I really was spoiled for choice on which one to enjoy first! A lover of fruit teas and herbal infusions, it was a difficult decision to make.  So, how do you make such a decision?  Well, like this of course!

Now, just to clarify, Monkey didn’t bring the teas to me personally and hasn’t come to visit, but when he does, I will be grabbing him firmly by his toe!

I chose the Juicy Red Berries, while my husband went for his favourite of a smooth Green Tea, but with a hint of mandarin orange.

I always leave my bag in my cup; not just for a few minutes but for the whole duration of my drink, whilst he dunks the bag in and takes it out again before it gets too strong.

Long before the water hit my teabag, as soon as I opened the box, I was hit with the most amazing fruity smell that had my taste buds bursting into life in anticipation of what was to come.  I wasn’t disappointed either!  The warm, richly coloured, red berry infusion really did taste as good as it smelled.

In contrast the cool, muted colour of the mandarin orange green tea was delicate in both fragrance and colour.

We’ve now gone through every box of the teas (with the exception of the Camomile, because I really don’t like Camomile tea one tiny bit, sorry Monkey, but not even yours!)

The Spices & Mint tea is delicious as a drink but I wanted to give it a try in a fruited tea loaf to see what it would be like.

What a fabulous taste too!  So different but subtle with the slight heat of the spices and the cool of the mint. A winner in my family’s eyes.
Onto another favourite – Peppermint.  Everyone loves peppermint tea, yes? Good! Then you’ll like this one too then because it’s fresh, minty & delicious.  Enough said!

Thanks to PG Tips’ PR company for sending me a free hamper of fruit infusions and green teas to sample. Only a couple of random bags and the box of camomile ones left, so they must have been good, mustn’t they? 

Knorr Flavour Pots – Garlic, herb with Chicken Ras El Hanout

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I’m really loving how easy these Knorr Flavour Pots are to use; a perfect blend of flavour combined with absolute ease of use makes meal preparation so much easier.

Tonight I combined two of the Flavour Pots; the garlic and the mixed herbs with 2tsp of Ras El Hanout seasoning and 1tbs of rapeseed oil into a large bowl and mixing them thoroughly. I then cut 4 chicken breasts into bite sized pieces and coated them all in the garlic, herb & spice mixture before covering the bowl with cling film and placing in the fridge for 4-6 hours to marinade and infuse the chicken with these amazing flavours.

The chicken pieces were placed onto a baking tray and cooked at 200°C for 25-30 minutes until the chicken was cooked through.  Served simply with a stuffed bell pepper and some home made roast potato wedges was the perfect, simple tea time treat.  

 There were some of the chicken pieces leftover after serving dinner, so I’ve allowed them to cool ready to go with a salad for my lunch on Monday.
 
The Knorr pots were given to me by the Unilever Kitchen and Knorr UK.  I was under no obligation to create this recipe or to post a positive review on the product.  My review above is a true reflection of how simple, convenient & delicious I have found these Flavour Pots.

Seize the Flavour with Knorr Flavour Pots

Knorr have a new addition to their range of Stock Pots and Gravy Pots.  They now have Flavour Pots too.  I was lucky enough to have been invited to a Chef’s Tasting Table at the Ice Tank in Covent Garden, London where we were introduced to one of the development chefs, Cameron Healy, as well as Professor Barry C Smith, an expert in flavour perception from the Centre for the Study of Senses, who worked alongside Knorr and Cameron to develop the right balance of flavours that these little pots manage to pack inside.

We were informed on how we taste our food; using the smell, taste and touch that our nose and mouth experience to pass on the enjoyment (or dislike) of flavours and textures that we consume.  There are five senses in regard to the flavours that we experience; sweet, sour, salt, bitter and umami (or savoury as it is often referred to).
We were give a simple little test to prove that our noses help us to taste the flavours of our food.  Just try pinching your nose and eating.  What do you sense? Creaminess, texture, ‘mouth feel’? Can you taste what you’re eating? Probably not. Now, release your nose and allow the flavours of your food to come through and understand how both of these senses worth together in perfect harmony to allow us to enjoy what we eat.
Amongst the human population are approximately 25% of people who are deemed to be ‘super tasters’.  Those who have more tightly packed receptors on the tongue which allow them to have a more intense experience of the food that they eat.  This can be detected in a couple of ways; visually using a food colouring on the tongue and the number of pink receptors physically counted in a set area, or chemically with an impregnated piece of paper that is placed on the tongue.  To some people, this paper has absolutely no taste. To others it can taste mildly to moderately bitter and to some it can taste absolutely vile.  Unfortunately, to my dislike, I was in the absolutely vile camp within seconds of it being placed on my tongue.  This Professor Smith informs me, places me firmly in the realms of being a ‘super taster’; something which I hope to be able to explore further in the future.
So, now we know why and how we taste our food, it was over to Chef Cameron to excite our taste buds with a menu created using the Knorr Flavour Pots. The five Knorr Flavour Pots were used by Cameron to produce a 6 course Chef’s Tasting menu that we all enjoyed;

First on the menu was Garlic Prawns, created using a few simple ingredients with the Garlic Flavour Pot.  Each pot is the equivalent of 2 garlic cloves which are transformed into a ready to use, perfectly balanced paste.

Our second course was a warming Curried Parsnip Soup.  Parsnips were combined with the Curry Flavour Pot to produce a warm and richly flavoured soup.  The Curry Flavour Pot is a blend of 13 perfectly balanced spices which didn’t overpower the parsnips, but allowed the flavour of them to come through.

Third to be served to us from the menu used the Mixed Herb Flavour Pot and came to us in the form of a Pasta Napolitana; a perfect blend of Mediterranean herbs, such as Thyme, Oregano, Rosemary and Basil which have been expertly blended to produce a paste which complemented the Umami in the tomatoes used in the sauce.

Our next course was a Chilli Chicken Stir Fry using the Mixed Chilli Pot.  Now this was (to me personally) a hot dish, but nevertheless, perfectly balanced in respect of aroma & flavours.

A perfectly cooked fillet Steak was served with a Peppercorn & cream Sauce, made using the 4th pot in the collection; 3 Peppercorn Flavour Pot.  A incredibly simple to produce dish, that packs a huge flavour.  All the hard work really has already been done for you in these little pots.

In our final course of the evening, a Strawberry Shortcake, came the surprise.  The simple & light shortcake was made using the 3 Peppercorn Flavour Pot which was stirred into the mixture prior to piping & baking.  You initially get the sweet and crumbly taste of the biscuit with the added but subtle warmth of the black, green and pink peppercorns following.  Team this with the cream and fresh strawberries & you’ve got a perfect dessert to round off a perfect evening.

All of the Flavour Pots in the range are Gluten Free are suitable for Vegetarians and they come in a pack of 4 pots.
My thanks go to the Unilever Kitchen, Knorr, Chef Cameron Healy, Professor Barry C Smith, Clarion Communications and Ice Tank for a fantastic, informative and interesting evening.  I certainly look forward to being able to explore and develop my tastes and perception of food further.